Writing Lucas was incredibly fun. He’s so completely without boundaries, and takes such joy in life, that I felt I could do anything I wanted with him. It was incredibly freeing as a writer, and I miss him already. Here’s a little taste of my new favorite vampire, Lucas.
THE BADLANDS of SOUTH DAKOTA . . . haunting landscapes, legendary outlaws, and . . . vampires?
LUCAS DONLON, Vampire Lord, is one of the most powerful vampires in North America and beyond. Charming and irreverent to his friends and lovers, he enjoys everything about his life as a vampire. But when a neighboring lord makes the mistake of declaring war, he quickly discovers that Lucas is every bit as lethal as he is charming.
KATHRYN HUNTER doesn’t care about powerful vampires or their wars. Her baby brother is missing and she will do anything to find him, even if it means going against both her FBI bosses and the local vampire lord. But Lucas Donlon has other plans for the lovely FBI agent who’s landed on his doorstep.
Waging war against their enemies and each other, Lucas and Kathryn will risk everything to keep the most deadly vampire war in hundreds of years from engulfing every vampire, and human, in North America.
An Excerpt from Lucas, Vampires in America, Book Six
Special Agent Kathryn Hunter lay on her stomach in the dirt, the butt of her Sig Sauer 3000 rifle snugged into the curve of her shoulder. She leaned into the Leupold scope and settled the crosshairs on her target. Data ran through her brain, was processed, and let go. Like all snipers, she tended to step out of the moment when she was shooting, focusing only on the target, the shot. She concentrated on taking shallow, even breaths, her entire world reduced to what she could see beyond the crosshairs.
It was a relatively easy shot. Eighty yards, less than the length of a football field. A slight breeze was blowing, but at this distance, that wasn’t enough to matter. The target was stationary, but armed. Not a problem. Law enforcement snipers were trained to go for the head shot, to immediately incapacitate a subject holding a weapon, if necessary. It was a shot she’d made a hundred times on the range. No hesitation, no nerves. Just line up the shot and take it.
Kathryn heard the go-ahead come over her radio. She exhaled slowly and squeezed the trigger.
“And bye-bye terrorist! Kathryn, baby, you are the best!” Eduardo Saver, her friend and the day’s range supervisor, said over the radio, confirming what she already knew. She’d hit the target dead on. His enthusiastic reaction wasn’t exactly protocol, but there were only the two of them on the range this afternoon, so he’d gone for friendship instead of professionalism. Kathryn grinned as her heart started pumping again, and she felt the rush of adrenaline begin to fade. Her body didn’t care that this was just another practice shoot in a long line of practices. Once she got behind the scope, everything narrowed down to the crosshairs and the annihilation of her target.
“Thanks, Eduardo,” she said as he came up behind her.
“You going out with the rest of us later?” Eduardo asked. “Time to let some hair down, chica. All work and no play . . .”
Kathryn turned as she sat up from her prone position, her hand going self-consciously to her hair in its tight French braid. She forced a laugh. “Maybe. The usual place?”
“Naturally,” Eduardo said. He looked down at her with a leering grin. “I’ll be waiting.”
“Uh huh.” She rolled her eyes at him. Eduardo wasn’t interested in her that way. She was too tall and too pale for his tastes. “I’ve got to stow this,” she said, indicating her weapon. “But maybe I’ll see you there.”
She stood, reaching automatically for the cell phone on her belt and switching it back on. It was always off during range exercises. The phone vibrated almost at once, and she pulled it off her belt one-handed, frowning at the message she saw there.
She looked up. “I don’t think so. It’s Penelope Bateman, my brother’s agent. He’s on one of his solitary photo adventures, and she’s probably just calling with a message from him. He does that sometimes if he can’t get a hold of me.”
Eduardo touched her arm to get her attention. “See you at the bar.”
“Yeah,” she agreed absently, giving him a brief glance before returning to the call log on her phone. Penny had called several times in the last hour.
She placed her weapon on the wood plank table and popped the magazine, checking automatically to be certain the weapon was empty. She then wiped it down and used a soft brush on the scope lenses before placing it in the custom-made hard shell case. After closing the case, she made a few notes in her field book, mostly range and target information, since shooting conditions had been as close to ideal as they ever got. As she wrote, she bemoaned, as always, that so far she’d never had a chance to fire her weapon anywhere except on the range. She was a skilled shooter, but since 9/11, the FBI’s emphasis was all about terrorism. She spent far more of her time sitting at a desk than she did out in the field, and had begun to regret the Quantico posting she’d been so excited about a few years ago.
She sighed and tucked the field book away, then pulled out her cell phone and hit the call back on Penny’s last message.
“Kathryn!” Penny answered almost before the phone had stopped ringing the first time.
“What’s up, Penny, did you–”
“Something terrible’s happened! Danny’s missing!”
Two Weeks Later
Near the Minnesota/Wisconsin Border
The huge SUVs were three black blurs of speed as they roared through the night. Lucas Donlon sat in the middle seat of the second SUV, listening to the chatter of his vampires, both around him and through his headset for those in the other trucks. They were hyped and ready for action, almost too hyped after the hours of travel to get this far. Even with a private jet, it took time.
But they were here now, and Lucas was with his warriors in feeling the rush of impending battle, the pump of adrenaline as he prepared to fight to the death. It was a rare thing in this civilized world, with its laws and cameras everywhere. But tonight’s confrontation would mark the beginning of a war between vampires–something this continent hadn’t seen in nearly a century. And how better to start a war than with the death of a traitor? Alfonso Heintz didn’t know they were coming for him, but he would soon, and his fear would taste just as sweet as his blood. Maybe better.
The trucks rolled down the unlit rural roads, running dark. The vampire drivers didn’t need the lights to see by, and Lucas didn’t want to advertise his presence to anyone yet, human or vampire. Not until he had his prey cornered. Alfonso Heintz was sworn to Lucas, but had recently moved his entire household just over the border into Wisconsin, near the small college town of River Falls. It was no more than 30 miles from Minneapolis, but crossing the border between Minnesota and Wisconsin took him out of Lucas’s Plains Territory and into the territory of Lucas’s enemy, the Lord of the Midwest, Klemens.
Had Lucas needed it, Heintz’s move over the border would have confirmed the vampire’s guilt. But he already knew the vampire was guilty and needed no more evidence. In truth, if the traitor had known his betrayal had been discovered, he’d have moved much farther than a few miles over the border. As if a few miles, or a few thousand miles, would ever stop Lucas from exacting the justice he was due. This was war. Boundaries no longer mattered.
But whether or not Heintz realized he’d been discovered, he would surely have a guard or two on lookout. Unfortunately for Heintz, most of the vampires hiding away with him were also sworn to Lucas, a fact that he clearly didn’t fully appreciate, in terms of its ramifications for security. Lucas could drop any vampire sworn to him with nothing more than a thought. It was likely, of course, that one or two of Klemens’s people would be in the house tonight, and they’d require close up killing. But then, Lucas had no intention of winning this battle from a distance. He intended to punish the traitors in a very up close and personal fashion. In fact, he hoped Heintz and his fellow miscreants put up one hell of a fight, because Lucas and his people were ready to rock and roll.
The target house was big and wide, a two-story clapboard with a long, covered front porch. The building was completely dark when the SUVs skidded on the light snow covering the dirt patch of a front yard. It appeared empty, but the large number of cars and trucks parked around back told a different story. Lucas sent a small tendril of power creeping into the house and found thirteen vampires, all wide awake and jittery with nerves. By now, Heintz and his people knew Lucas had arrived, and they were probably wishing they’d hidden themselves a lot better than they had.
Lucas reached forward and clapped his lieutenant on the shoulder, where he sat in the front passenger seat. “Let’s be polite, Nick. I’m sure Heintz and his minions will be excited as hell to receive a visit from their rightful lord and master.”
Nicholas laughed and issued a few terse commands into his throat mike. The doors popped open on all three SUVs, and black-clad vampires poured out, deploying quickly to surround the house. Every one of them was a highly trained and powerful fighter. By virtue of their vampire blood, they were weapons unto themselves, but they also carried whatever human weapons they preferred, from 9mm handguns to compact submachine guns. And no doubt a knife or three thrown into the mix.
Lucas himself carried no weapon other than the power which made him one of the most feared vampires in North America–a vampire lord, ruler of the Plains Territory. Thousands of vampires literally lived and died at his command. Including Alfonso Heintz. Traitor or not, Heintz was still beholden to Lucas for every breath he drew, every beat of his heart. Klemens might have used Heintz, but he hadn’t offered his protection, hadn’t taken his oath of fealty. Which meant if Lucas wanted, he could have shriveled the unfaithful bastard’s heart in his chest without ever leaving South Dakota.
But where was the fun in that?”
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